After poking around the League of Lay Centers service book I wrote about yesterday, I discovered something about how is organized.
For one thing, it was not meant to be used by itself. The recommended order of service called for scriptural readings to come from a book called The Soul of the Bible. This was a lectionary in the true sense; that is, a book of readings, rather than a chart of readings. That deserves some investigation in its own right. Because the hymnal section has no printed music, an instrumentalist would need to use another Unitarian hymnal for the music. Recommended hymn tunes point to hymnals noted as “C & H” and “H & T.” Matching the citations, we see that these are
The former would have been more useful. Printed tracts or sermons, rather than original compositions, are likely the sermons intended, but those could be ordered for free from 25 Beacon Street. These resources in hand, let’s turn to the commended order of service.
Order of Service
- Music — Instrumental or Vocal.
- Responses Service from the Service and Hymn book.
- Scripture reading from “The Soul of the Bible.”
- Closing Formula Read by the Leader, or by the Leader and People in Unison.
As we now turn to the duties, to the joys and sorrows of this busy life, may the spirit of a brave confidence in God be our constant support and comfort, and the consciousness that we are doing His will guide us into to the way of sincere fellowship with one another, and along the path of perfect peace. Amen.
A hearty little order.
But what do you get in a Responsive Service? The first two options are stucturally similar, with a selection of opening words; an exhortation in the first option or the Lord’s Prayer in the second; and a substantial litany. The second option ends “Praise ye the Lord/The Lord’s name be praised.” Even without parsing the text closely, the first scans Classic Theist and the second Christian. The other Responsive Services are thematic and shorter: a substantial responsive reading and a prayer.
These services themes are
- God Our Father
- Man Our Brother
- Jesus Our Leader
- Character Our Salvation
- Progress Our Destiny
- A Very Present Help in Trouble
- Blessed Are They
- Righteousness and Peace
- A Service of Thanksgiving
- Commemorative Service
A pretty Unitarian assortment, and you’d be forgiven if you looked for Boston Our Neighborhood. No sacraments, wedding or burial services — as one would expect for a lay service book — but no Christmas or Easter either. The selection of hymns is equally hard-wearing, grouped under the themes
- Worship and Service
- Christmas (3 hymns, but none we’d think of as Christmassy)
Details about the services and hymns eventually. But I’ll look to the next Unitarian hymnal-prepended servicebook, Services for Congregational Worship (1914) for shared material.